35 Senate Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban of 2021
On Thursday, March 11, 2021, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced the "Assault Weapons Ban of 2021."
This proposed legislation bans the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of common AR-15 and AK-47 style semi-automatic rifles and standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Read the bill here.
Ignoring the fact that handguns, not rifles, are used in the overwhelming majority of murders, bill sponsors claim the bill is designed to "make our cities and towns safer and more secure and help to reduce gun deaths." But that is clearly not true.
Look at the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2019, the most current data available, which shows what types of weapons are used to commit murder. Out 13,927 murders in 2019, only 364 or 2.6% involved a rifle. But 6,368 or 45.7% involved a handgun. Further, knives were used in 1,476 murders or 10.6%, and "hands, fists, feet" were used in 600 or 4.3%.
In fact, the number of "rifle murders" has been falling since the previous federal Assault Weapons Ban, enacted in 1994 during the Clinton Administration, and which expired in 2004. Citing the same FBI data, John Lott points out this trend:
With all the concern about assault weapons since the federal ban sunset in 2004, it is interesting to see what a small share of murders are committed with any type of rifle and how even that share has fallen over time. The percentage of firearm murders with rifles was 4.8% prior to the ban starting in September 1994, 4.9% from 1995 to 2004 when the ban was in effect, and just 3.6% after that (3.9% if you look at just the first ten years after the an ended).
This so-called assault weapons ban has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with politics.
AR-15s are the most popular rifles in the United States, used by law-abiding citizens every day for sport, hunting, and self-defense. Estimates of legally owned rifles of this type total 10 million to 20 million in the U.S. If ever there were a type of firearm protected by the Second Amendment, it is this.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration appears committed to wasting more time and money on a policy that has proven irrelevant to crime and safety. This is a purely partisan bill.
Co-sponsors in the Senate include Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
- Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 common rifles, listed by name.
- Bans any rifle that uses a non-fixed magazine and has one or more "military" characteristics, including a pistol grip, forward grip, barrel shroud, threaded barrel, or a folding or telescoping stock.
- Bans and prohibits the transfer of magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds.
- Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of a rifle covered by the bill.
- Requires that grandfathered rifles are stored securely or use a trigger lock.
- Bans "bump-fire stocks" and other devices.
The ban applies only to rifles manufactured after the bill becomes law. Currently owned rifles will be "grandfathered" and legal.
In addition, the bill exempts by name more than 2,200 firearms, mostly shotguns, but also small-caliber, lever and bolt action, single shot, rimfire, and competition models. In my opinion, this is a cynical tactic intended to create a false impression of fairness.
First, this will be a hard sell in an evenly-split Senate, where Republicans and moderate Democrats are already eyeing the 2022 elections and know all too well what a harsh political backlash an AR ban like this would cause.
Second, the most likely effect of this bill will be to further energize sales of AR-15s to all-new records in an already red hot gun market. If Feinstein and company truly believe black rifles are evil and ban-worthy, why would they do the one thing guaranteed to pump millions more such firearms into the civilian population?
So what can you do to fight against this bill? Contact Ohio's Senators, Sherrod Brown (one of the bill's sponsors) and Rob Portman. Tell them you oppose this bill and expect them to oppose it as well. Click here to send them a message. Or pick up the phone and call.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.